Thursday, March 10, 2016

Obit: Raju Vasanthraj

Raju Vasanthraj: Man of many parts 

My dear friend Raju Vasanthraj ( Rv Raj on Facebook) shocked all with his sudden passing away yesterday (March 9, 2016). Looking back at his text messages from Beijing only two months ago and all the conversations we had it looks unreal that he is no more with us !
A voracious reader, alumnus of Oxford and Berkeley. He was on the outside shockingly hawkish and sectarian but inside always going out of the way to help many. The twinkle in his eyes never let out whether he was a genuine hawk or was just pulling your leg for shock value.
A real backroom boy and undertook many quiet missions in both Dr Man Mohan Singh's PMO for the Knowledge Commission and now with the present PM, in the strategic area with NSA but he always did it all pro bono, as service to the country. He took his projects seriously and did all the necessary research and legwork tirelessly but never hankered for the lime light.
Rubbed shoulders with many high and mighty in business and finance and later politics and even International leaders but he was equally affable and down to earth talking to a man on the street or his driver.
He had a vast collection of books on history, philosophy, strategic studies and many other subjects. He greatly welcomed the onset of ebooks since it saved him the library space and soon had a veritable collection of ebooks. Whenever he liked a book he would lend it to me generously. Or if I was looking for a particular one he would use all his contacts here and abroad to procure it.
He was a foodie and introduced me to many a gem in the bylanes of Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai. But he was a fantastic cook too. Especially south indian savouries. Once he presented my wife Radhika with his Thatte and Khara Boondi and completely floored all of us with its incredible quality. He was in the process of writing a cookbook of authentic Tam-Brahm food. He had already edited an Ayurvedic Cookbook written by someone else.
I tried many times to induce him to translate his vast erudition into writing. But I was successful only once. True to his mischievous self he signed it off with a pseudonym " Shaniyan" (:-).

He had also been recently convinced by a well known publishing house in UK to research and write a book on the history of global reach of Tamil entrepreneurs since the ancient times.
He leaves behind a young family and my heart goes out to them.
May he rest in peace.

--Shivanand Kanavi